Friday, July 29, 2016

Speech outline for my 2014-2015 year as #NCBA #YLD Chair

Do we make a difference as lawyers?
o   Relevancy.  Big business says our skill set is not unique.  Can be easily outsourced to non-lawyers more cheaply and efficiently
o   Legislatures throughout the country are slashing funding for the courts.  The federal government is slashing funding for the courts.
o   Legal aid programs are being cut or eliminated.
o   Lawyers are more relevant than ever.  They make a difference.

I.                  “Seeking liberty and justice” needs to do directly.
·        The cacophonous din of prejudice and ignorance tells us this is a platitude.  But if we listen we hear the whispers of justice all around us.
·        It is heard when we go to court for some.  When we write a letter. When we take a phone call at 6 PM on a Tuesday and give advice at no charge to someone when they desperately need help.  Or when we care about someone who has never been cared for in their lives.
·        The disadvantaged.  Those who were shoved to the back of the line from the money they were born and have been held back be it through lack of education, lack of parents or any other kind of opportunity.
·        Can one person make a difference?  Rosa Parks played a pivotal role in the Civil Rights Movement.  Freedom Riders together and collectively.  “Tank man” at Tiananmen Square in China in 1989.
·        Many good projects that have helped a lot of people: Wills for Heroes, Project Grace, Legal Link and Legal Feeding Frenzy.
·        If we don’t, no one will.  Legal Aid is being slashed.  The legislature isn’t helping things.  It is up to us.
·        We need to do something about it.  In the words of that immortal philosopher, Yoda, “Do or do not, there is no try.”

What can I do as chair?
II.               Innocence Project
·        Not everyone begins in a good place.  Many are, to use a Jeffrey Archer title, “a prisoner of birth.”  If you are in this room, chances are you started your life well.  You were born into a good family.  You went to the right schools.  Your succeeded before you were ever born.
·        Not everyone has it so easy.
·        Too many people are wrongfully in prison and wrongfully on death row.  “The thing is, you don’t have many suspects who are innocent of a crime.  That’s contradictory.  If a person is innocent of a crime, then he is not a suspect.”  Edwin Meese, AG, 1986.  Actual Innocence.
·        Our state and every other state have tortured histories.  Daryl Hunt. Ronald Cotton.  Forgiving and gracious.
·        What part can we play?
·        My initiative is to work with the Innocence Project.  We can do research, screen cases or whatever else needs to be done.  We can play a role.
·        Why are we doing this?  We are giving hope to people, and possibly our efforts will make a difference years down the road.
·        Count of Monte Cristo “Has count not just told us that all human wisdom was contained in these two words—‘wait’ and ‘hope’?”  Edmund Dantes wrongfully imprisoned.

III.           More inclusion (“navigating the tides of change”
·        Embrace out differences in order to appreciate our common humanity.
·        We need more diversity.
·        Not all minorities are the same.  Different needs.  LGBT, African American, Hispanic/Latino and Asian American issues.
·        Too often groups have had to wait for justice, to wait for equality.  We need to lead the way.
·        Lawyers should lead the way.  We should not be behind or sit with the status quo.

IV.           Conclusion
·        “In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.”  Thomas Jefferson.
·        We need to hear the whispers of justice and liberty and to do our part to make them more than whispers.
·        Everyone matters.  Everyone has value, and it is our job, as lawyers, to protect people and do what is right.

·        If we don’t know one will. 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

#DonaldTrump campaign may face copyright lawsuit for use of #GeorgeHarrison song, #HereComestheSun

Trump's campaign didn't get permission from the Harrison estate, which owns the rights to "Here Comes the Sun," prior to using it at the RNC. This could cost the campaign hundreds of thousands of not millions. Copyrighted material is under the exclusive control of the owner. Not obtaining permission and failing to pay is tantamount to stealing.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

#CharlesKinsey should get millions from #NorthMiamiPolice

And he should. This was completely unwarranted. He was protecting an autistic man. He was shot for being black. No justification. This kind of violence must stop!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

#SocialSecurityDisability claimants endure unfair stereotypes

They are called lazy. Moochers. Cheats. All of these characterizations are as inaccurate as they are unfair. I've never had a client get Social Security Disability who didn't deserve it. People who get disability work hard for the most part and have something physical, mental, or both that is beyond their control. Believe me. I've seen it.

Don't believe people who don't understand Social Security Disability or who hate Social Security in general. They likely have an agenda that is at odds with helping people.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Bigot #MikePence is #ChickenTrump VP pick

Double down on racist. I'm thrilled because this pick will only hurt. How does this help anywhere other than Indiana? An utterly tonedeaf pick. Would you expect otherwise?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Law firms that evolve will live; those that won't will die #lawyerslife

Law firms are some of the strangest organizations you will ever encounter. And many of them don't really work anymore if they ever did. They have large, inefficient staffs, waste time, money and don't get work done. In other words, they don't provide value to the client.

Clients question this structure as they should. The business world certainly is calling the law firm into question, and it has been for some time.

But it really comes down to the lawyers and whether or not they are willing to adapt to the modern marketplace. I've seen many lawyers who are afraid of progress or they embrace technology and quick fixes as if there are shortcuts to success.

One thing that hasn't changed is lawyers must work hard and be attentive to their clients. Lawyers who do this (as opposed to catering to the firm and its culture) will thrive and not "die" like the others inevitably will.

Court #doodle #lawyerslife


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

#SocialSecurityDisability cases are about not talking too much #lawyerslife

Good lawyers know when to talk and when to be quiet. Being quiet is the toughest part because lawyers want to fill the room with their eloquence, which is often anything but. And talking too much can take away from what you are trying to say. It can hurt your case.

It is important to know when you've said enough. I had a hearing today where I said just enough. Then I didn't say anything else. The expert concluded my client couldn't do his past work, and he had no transferable skills (she said yes to the judge's question about transferrable skills--always a wise sign). The expert concluded no jobs were available. Both of these things mean--barring a dramatic shift in opinion--this client won his hearing. No need to say anything else when you've already won.

I didn't talk too much, and I said much more by doing so.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

#ChickenTrump in an image


#HillaryClinton WON the #ComeyHearing today

What did the FBI director confirm today?

1. Hillary Clinton didn't lie.
2. The e-mails could be judged as not classified.
3. Hillary Clinton didn't break the law.

Thank you Mr. Director of the FBI and Republican, who has been praised by the right. Kind of hard for the GOP to walk this one back.

When will they learn their hearings don't work?

#PhilandoCastile murdered by police #BlackLivesMatter

Castile was stopped for having a broken taillight, but that's not why he was stopped. That's what we call a "proxy" or false reason. He was stopped for being black and for daring to drive on the road. He told the office he had a gun, and the officer could see Castile's 4-year-old daughter was in the backseat. Castile told him he was going to hand him the gun.

What was the officer's response?

He shot him four times. The officer MURDERED him. There's no other way to put it.

Where is the NRA standing up for this man's "right to bear arms"? If he were white, they certainly would.

Shame on the police. Shame on the NRA. And shame on America for letting this happen.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

#AltonSterling murdered by #BatonRouge police officer thug

Police have killed 558 people this year alone. That's staggering and unnecessary. I'm tired of hearing police officers have a tough job. Having a tough job doesn't mean you get to kill people. If you don't like the job, quit. I'm tired of your killing and your whining about how freaking hard your life is. You get paid. You get benefits, and you get far more respect than you deserve at times.

There are many good police officers who deserve respect, but respect is EARNED. I don't have to respect you just because you are a police officer. Give me a reason to respect you. Senselessly killing people you are supposed to protect doesn't warrant respect.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

#SocialSecurityDisability cases are about story telling #lawyerslife

Whenever I meet with a Social Security Disability client I begin fashioning the story from that first meeting. The story often changes, but disability cases are about storytelling. The story answers the explicit (and implicit) question: why are you disabled? 

I try and let the client's story come out. My job is to make it more clear so it will be obvious he or she is disabled. 

Monday, July 4, 2016

Smaller, more efficient staff leads to lower law firm overhead #lawfirmmanagement #lawyerslife

Law firms are dinosaurs, and they have been for a long time. They are filled with large, unnecessary staffs, and this leads to the tail wagging the dog. Long time staff can wield far more influence than they should if they are there only because they've been there for a long time. Staff cannot be like dead plants left at the office for too long. Sadly many are.

Smart firms are going smaller more efficient. This reduces the overhead to more manageable levels. Law firm overhead should NEVER be over fifty percent. Thirty-five percent or lower is ideal, and it is difficult to achieve this number with a large, bloated staff.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

#4thofJuly should be more than just a party

Many people use the 4th of July as just another long weekend. It is a party to them, but it is more than that. It it the day the Declaration of Independence was signed and our "Independence Day" where we broke form the oppressive rule of Great Britain. But it is more than that. It symbolizes where we've been, where we are and where we are going. I hope Americans will think about the direction they want their country to go in because it needs to be the right one.